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Ridding Your House of Troublesome Bugs

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Ridding Your House of Troublesome Bugs

Helpful Hints to Kill Pests

John Heywood. The spider and the flie. London, 1556

Tudor and Stuart ideas about sanitation were far different from ours. In city streets the dung of animals mingled with refuse thrown from nearby houses, attracting insects and vermin. People seldom bathed and rarely changed their bedding or the rushes on their floors. They accepted the resulting fleas and lice as a normal part of their life, but they created numerous concoctions and contrivances to outsmart them.


Ridding her house of "troublesome bugs" was part of the housewife's daily ritual of cleaning. Many books offered sophisticated means of killing pests with deadly herbal and chemical concoctions, but the woman pictured in John Heywood's The Spider and the Flie (London, 1556) is taking the direct approach. The Compleat English and French Vermin-Killer (London, c1707), offers another method to destroy house bugs: "Take gunpowder beat small and lay some about the crevices of your bedstead, and fire it with a match..., and keep the smoke in. This do for a hour or more, and let the room be kept close for some hours after."



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  Additional Information

For Pismires (Ants) and Other Vermin:


"Put here and there a glass with water and honey in it, where in they'll drown themselves. Six or  will go a great way. Or, Take oregano, powder it, and strew it among them and it kills them."


From The compleat English and French vermin-killer, being a necessary family-book. London, ca. 1707.



To Drive Away Rats:


"Fry a sponge in butter and hang it by a string, and the rats

will forsake the room."


From Hannah Woolley, A supplement to the queen-like closet. London, 1674.



To Drive Away Moles:


"Take a head or two of garlic, onlion, or leek, and put it int their holes, and they'll run out as if amazed, and so you may with a spear or dog take them."


From The compleat English and French vermin-killer, being a necessary family-book. London, ca. 1707.

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